Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Jeep In 1985

The 1980’s were a tumultuous time for the world and for Jeep. In 1985 the CJ was nearly ready to end production. At this time the CJ-5 was no more and the CJ-7 was the lone survivor in the CJ camp. But it went on proudly through its final year in 1986 after the decision was announced by Joseph Cappy, the executive VP of operations in November of 1985. Another old veteran, the Gladiator was scheduled to be phased out in 1987. In ’85 their lineup was pretty slim with the J-10 not being manufactured (but for some reason it made its triumphant swan song return in its final year, 1987...). The J-20 with a 131” wheelbase was the only offering in its base level or the Pioneer package that for an additional $475 gave you floor carpeting, fabric door panel inserts, a wood grain instrument cluster overlay, decals, wheel covers and an Extra Quiet Insulation Package that included a custom headliner and dash insulation along with other sound deadening materials for that rumble of the 258 inline 6 or AMC’s 360 V-8.
But as the 1980’s were about the fear of nuclear mutual assured destruction they were also about hope for the future and this was embodied in the Cherokee and the Commanche pickup. The Cherokee had been remodeled the year before in 1984 and it was a hit. The Cherokee had been named 4 Wheel & Off Road magazine’s “4 X 4 of the Year.” It was an exciting new step in the right direction and as the brochure illustrates the “Innovation and Technology Only In A Jeep.” The new Commanche expanded Jeep’s marketplace footstep into a new area, that of the burgeoning market for the smaller and more affordable import pickup truck. It debuted officially as a 1986 model and if you look carefully, you’ll realize that its basic design was taken from the Cherokee sans enclosed rear. It never quite developed a following in the day and by 1992 after some 164,000 units made it ended its run.
But like any jeep that had seen better days, a new star was on the horizon, about to shine and where we end up next week will be the first glimpse of that star.

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